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Seattle's "hawk Tackle" Techniques


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The next installment of the ongoing Field Gulls discussion of the Seattle/Atlanta defensive schemes. This is my post #6 in the series.

This is going to be a bit of a departure from the scheme specific discussions, and is instead going to focus on tackling: how Seattle does it differently, teaches it, practices it, and why it's more effective and safer than the old-school tackling fundamentals.

Every Falcons fan knows that tackling has been a HUGE issue for us since...well, a long darn time. We've heard this offseason that we will be working on tackling and the fundamentals of tackling in nearly every practice session we have. A lot of us probably asked how that is possible without being in pads. This post and corresponding video will help answer that question.

There is a link at the bottom of this post that leads to the 21 minute Pete Carroll video that this article talks about. It shows the techniques and how they are able to practice tackling without pads. It's a good, although drawn out, video that every serious fan will want to watch.

As usual, any red text will by my comments.

http://www.fieldgull...ckle-techniques

National Champion Buckeyes embraced Pete Carroll's "Hawk Tackle" techniques in 2014, and it paid huge dividends

By Danny Kelly @FieldGulls on Apr 4, 2015

The Ohio State Buckeyes went into the 2014 college football season ranked 46th in total defense, and tackling had been a major issue to end their 2013 campaign -- particularly in their Big-10 Championship Game loss to Michigan State and their Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. After a huge improvement in 2014 and a National Championship to show for it, new Co-Defensive Coordinator Chris Ash gave a lot of credit for the jump to 19th in total defense on watching Pete Carroll's now famous Rugby-Tackling Instructional Video from last summer. Ash convinced his staff, and Urban Meyer, to change up Ohio State's coaching and install new tackling techniques for what we now know to be called the "Hawk Tackle."

"We changed our tackling philosophy, partly because Pete Carroll's video inspired us to go back and really evaluate ourselves," Ash told reporters this past week. "When we did evaluate ourselves, we found out that what we were coaching wasn't showing up on film."

"We went through the self-evaluation last summer after spring practice and it was a fairly big change," he said. "Philosophically, everything that you've been taught in the game of football and how you tackle, we were going against that."

"The Pete Carroll video really got a lot of people to go back and evaluate what they're doing," he said. "But not a lot of people necessarily bought into it because it's different, and if you get out of your comfort zone -- a lot of people aren't willing to do that -- and we did, and it paid off. I'm glad we did."

"If you're a coach and you've been doing it for 30 years and you've had success doing it, your thought is, 'why am I going to change what I'm doing?' I look at it differently — 'there's always a way to do stuff better.' And, you've got to at least evaluate that — at the end of the day, and through your exhaustive research you realize it's not better, we don't change. But I'm not going to be one that, 'we're doing it this way, because we've done it [this way].' If I see or hear something that spurs some thought, and I start to research, and find out — 'yeah, this is actually better' — we'll do it. And, that's really what that video did — it made us think, are we doing the right thing, really? So, we go back and evaluate."

"I'm so glad that I did watch that video when I did, and we went through as a staff and did that self-evaluation when we did, because I feel today that after 18 years of coaching, I taught something that actually shows up on tape and is safer for the players."

"We did our own evaluation," continued Ash. "I probably watched that video that Pete Carroll put out like, 20 times, to be honest with you. Because I wanted to just keep going back, listening to what he was talking about — ‘safety was the number-one thing, safety, safety, safety,' and I thought, you know what? I don't know that the way we're teaching tackling is necessarily unsafe, but should we change? So, I thought, I'm not going to put this to bed. I'm going to go watch our film."

"I start watching our film," he said, "and I'll be darned. Everything he's talking about [with regards to unsafe techniques] is showing up on film, and we're not even coaching it. We got together as a defensive staff. ‘We've got to watch this. We've got to talk about this. Something's not right here.' We're all smart coaches and have been coaching for a long time, but what you're coaching, what I'm coaching, it's not happening on film. We've got to talk about this.' We had some serious conversations for a few weeks."

"It eliminated some injuries," said Ash. "But it also was a lot more effective. And I can tell you honestly right now, as a coach, I could go show you our film and what we teach, what we coach, what we drill and guess what? It shows up on film," Ash said. "Not once, not twice, not by luck but by design. Our players have bought into it and that alone, in my opinion, led to us having a lot of success, especially late in the season."

_________________________________________________________

Seahawks tackling fundamentals video with Pete Carroll

By Danny Kelly @FieldGulls on Jul 29, 2014

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll recently put together a short clinical video for coaches that teaches and emphasizes a "rugby-style" shoulder tackling method. This is opposed to a more traditional method which has involved putting your facemask onto the football (

) or into an opposing player's body (it's long been emphasized to keep your eyes up and never to use the crown of your head to tackle, but this is attempting to take the head completely out of the equation).

The overarching emphasis is to cut down on injuries, particularly head injuries, while still playing extremely tough, hard hitting football. The brain injury issue in football is only going to be more closely examined.

As Chris Brown of Smart Football notes,

"Recently, the USA Football, with the support of the NFL, has begun putting out a series of videos and other materials about

- though the reality is there can never truly be such a thing - but the method they propose is not much different than what has traditionally been taught and the head is still front and center in the tackle. And it's not necessarily the easiest way to get a moving target to the ground, so defenders end up resorting to more haphazard methods just to get the tackle made."

However, as Carroll notes in the intro to the video:

"It's a system that we've been teaching and utilizing for the past four years with the Seahawks and since our days at USC. To break it down, our tackling system features shoulder tackling and a renewed emphasis to take the head out of tackling. We've found our style to be successful in the NFL and college, and we believe it can be employed on all levels."

Carroll's coaching breaks down into sections, complete with supporting video. The Legendary John Madden threw his support behind the Carroll innovations, telling Seahawks.com that "The video is excellent. We've been looking for something like that for a long time. One of the things the Commissioner is trying to do is take the head out of football when it comes to tackling, not using the head for contact.

"So we're working on that and the question was: OK, if we take the head out, what do we put in? And Pete came up with this video. It's not only good, it's great. When I first looked at it, it was beyond what I thought it could have been and it was as close to perfect as it could be.

"It gave the answer," Madden said. "OK, we take the head out and you put the shoulder and the arms and the techniques and the drills in. Everything Pete has there provides the answers that are perfect.

"It was great for him to do that, to give back. And I think it gives the answers that we need. If we're going to do some of these things the Commissioner has asked us to do, we need these answers."

Said Pete Carroll: "There's so much talk around the league and around the game of football right now, that I wanted to see if we could contribute to helping people understand how you could play this game and do it in a great fashion and continue to promote the game," said Carroll, who was assisted in the video project by defensive passing game coordinator Rocky Seto.

"This is a concept we've been working with for a long time and something that's built into our makeup. But we just thought it would be worth sharing, and really hoping that it works its way through high school football and youth football to teach kids at an early age how to tackle and how to take care of themselves and play this game really fast and hard in absolutely the safest way possible."

Seahawks Tackling:

The Hawk Tackle:

"A shoulder leverage tackle, contacting the ball carrier on the thighs"

Coaching points:

Eyes through the thighs
Wrap and squeeze
Drive for 5 steps (when necessary)

The Hawk Roll Tackle:

"Shoulder leverage tackles at the thighs, that finish with the ball carrier being wrapped up at the thighs and rolled to the ground."

Coaching points:

Eyes through the thighs
Wrap and squeeze
Roll

The Profile Tackle:

"Shoulder leverage tackles that make contact with the near breastplate of the ballcarrier (near pec)"

Tackles made above the waists.

Coaching points:

Attack near pec
Wrap
Drive for 5

-------

Now, of course, this isn't revolutionary, having been borrowed from rugby and older school football sans helmets, but I do find it fascinating how Carroll still dedicates time to individual drilling, particularly in the current CBA structure, which severely limits practice time (relatively).

It comes down to Seattle's belief in developing their players to play their system and become a product of their program. They're literally indoctrinating their players with Carroll's established system.

Seahawks DBs coach Kris Richard is highly respected by his players and works in tandem with Passing Game Coordinator Rocky Seto to get Seattle's corners programmed to how they want them to play.

Said Carroll recently, when asked how the Hawks have turned mid- to late-round defensive backs into contributors:

Kris Richard and Rocky Seto have done a fantastic job of training them. They're really, really, strict, and if you guys could appreciate it, they (the corners) all look the same, somewhat.

The way they step, the way they challenge at the line of scrimmage, the way they finish in the things that we teach.

This is a long, long process, to get these guys to where they are. But, now they're in the system, and it doesn't matter who steps in and plays. It's impressive.

So, it's a process, but it's kind of a systems thing for us.

As I've written here before, the Hawks spend the first 30 or 40 minutes of their practices doing seemingly basic drills. They spend 10-15 minutes stretching, then they do the 'bag drill', with coaches firing up their players as they run, stepping over speed bump bags. This seems like something you'd see 12-year olds doing before practice but with Pete Carroll's program, it's ostensibly meant as a rite of passage into the practice you're about to undertake. Maybe he does it to stir some nostalgia in his players - take them back to their days of playing Pop Warner, where they played for the love of the game and not glory or a game-check. Maybe Carroll's just a dork. Either way, it gets the players fired up and the crowd fired up as well.

Once the team runs through the bag drill, the positional groups split and work on fundamentals. These drills, in my mind, are meant as 'muscle memory' exercises, and I can appreciate the fact that Carroll's teams spend time with this. The famous Carroll fumble-recovery drills - these engrain the technique of falling on a ball and wrapping your body around it, in the hopes that it becomes instinctual when the 'bullets are flying'.

During last year's camp, I noticed one that took place between former rookie John Lotulelei and one of the linebackers' coaches (not Ken Norton). In this drill, Lotu placed his hand on the coach's hip, following him closely whilst mirroring his steps precisely. The coach chopped his feet, then cut left, away from Lotu, fake-running a pass route as a tight end or slot receiver. This was done in slow motion and Lotu chopped his feet in as close to a unison with his coach as possible, and closed on the route behind him.

They then repeated the exercise in full speed, and you could see the technique that was being ingrained in the linebacker - it was a trailing coverage drill, meant to prepare the defender to trail a receiver or tight end, mirroring footsteps (running step for step) - to the point that the receiver or tight end chops their feet to stem their route. The technique was then, for the linebacker, to do the exact same thing, closing over the top and attempting to disrupt the passing lane with an arm or hand. It was pretty interesting to watch.

It's the same with their tackling fundamentals, their tracking fundamentals, and on and on.

_______________________________________________

Here is the link to the tackling instructional video: http://www.seahawks.com/news/2014/07/28/pete-carroll-tackles-serious-issue-instructional-video

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OP, thanks for posting. I've seen Carrol's techniques and videos. They are solid fundamentals that, sadly, a lot of "grown men" who have been playing football all of their lives have completely forgotten about. If the Falcons defenses of the past several seasons utilized those tackling techniques, especially in 2013, who knows what they could've accomplished? It may seem silly to teach such basic fundamentals, but look at the Seahawks defenses since Carrol took over that team. Look at some tape of USC's defense when Pete was there. It's one thing to know the fundamentals, it's another thing entirely to practice them and be devoted to using them on every single play. I believe that is one element of building a championship football team. I hope like **** that DQ is pushing the fundamentals hardcore on those guys this summer. It could make a world of difference.

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That's how I was taught...I thought that was normal.

Yeah that's kinda husky league stuff. I was taught those basics early. How's a professional forget those things? Actually, what's funny is the madden endorsement, considering his legendary raiders--who I loved back in the day--were straight up head hunters lol

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Day one JV football stuff right there. No revelations there. Why has tackling fallen so far?

I see a lot of similar comments. I, for one, can say it is very different than the way I was taught. It could be a generational thing. I played football through the 70's and into the 80's in rec programs and school. I was taught "see your target". A perfect tackle of a motionless runner would be with you face mask buried between his numbers, then wrap and drive. On pursuit (moving laterally toward the boundary) tackles we were taught to track the inside hip, cut off his path with your head (get your head in front of his body), make contact with your shoulder, then wrap and drive through the runner. That technique is a good way to get a knee in the ear hole of your helmet!

However, even in 1973 I was taught that tackling with my head down could break my neck. I don't know where that concept got lost. I think television and the concept of "lighting someone up" had something to do with it. In the 70s and 80s, there were defenders who absolutely were out to injury players on every tackle. Their intent was violent (Case, Lott, etc.). At the time, most of us thought that was a good thing. I'm glad we are getting back to the place where their is appreciation for playing wide open aggressive ball in a way that considers the players safety.

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I hope we have spent adequate time working on this. Everybody on the MB knows

all about it? Hawk tackling is a new approach and it will require work. We arm tackle

and head butt around here.

Agreed, despite what some are saying there's no way in he'll that the Atlanta Falcons have been using these methods.

I do realize that these fundamentals aren't exactly ground breaking, but teams like the Falcons need SOMETHING to improve their tackling. If this is what works, more power to them.

Edited by Atlfanstckndenver
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Agreed, despite what some are saying there's no way in he'll that the Atlanta Falcons have been using these methods.

I do realize that these fundamentals aren't exactly ground breaking, but teams like the Falcons need SOMETHING to improve their tackling. If this is what works, more power to them.

It seems to me KOG has a rugby background so perhaps

that is what he is referring to hawk tackling being normal.

It is not widely taught or practice in the NFL where normal

has been lead with the crown of the helmet wherever possible.

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It seems to me KOG has a rugby background so perhaps

that is what he is referring to hawk tackling being normal.

It is not widely taught or practice in the NFL where normal

has been lead with the crown of the helmet wherever possible.

Nah, but I had to read this multiple times and this is the way I teach tackling, the way I was taught, the way my cousin teaches as a college coach, the way I have been teaching my sons...both of whom want to play QB, the way I understand it, so on.

Yeah that's kinda husky league stuff. I was taught those basics early. How's a professional forget those things? Actually, what's funny is the madden endorsement, considering his legendary raiders--who I loved back in the day--were straight up head hunters lol

Day one JV football stuff right there. No revelations there. Why has tackling fallen so far?

Entertainment has become more popular than effectiveness. Even though this is the way to make a big hit every time you get a chance, as well as have the best leverage to cause a FF...something I was VERY good at.

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Y'all remember John "The Predator" Abraham,,,,,,,,,,,,right???? unsure.png

I always got a kick out of watching him sack the QB, he would wrap them up

and take them on a lil ol Aligator Roll, and no idea that Pete Carrol had developed

this technique and taught it to Abraham.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, .!.

The Hawk Roll Tackle:

"Shoulder leverage tackles at the thighs, that finish with the ball carrier being wrapped up at the thighs and rolled to the ground."

Coaching points:

Eyes through the thighs
Wrap and squeeze
Roll

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Yea this is how we coach our kids to tackle, but lately we've been using the "heads up" style of tackling (by request of the parents) but it leads to more missed tackles.

I blame Goodell.....

I still teach the old school fundamentals. You can still look up and raise your body and get a good tackle. You are right though, its nowhere near as effective. The old way protects you though, I don't know what they mean.

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I think it's great that so many people seem to have been taught a similar technique for as long as they can remember. I would ask those people to keep in mind, as others have already said in this thread, that just because THEY were taught this way doesn't mean all people were. The fact that this has been a big deal from the NFL to the collegiate level should inform people that it is in fact not standard teaching fundamentals. Especially since the new "heads-up" model is quite different from this.

Also, nobody is claiming that this is ground breaking new material. But it is different than the "heads-up" or even older "bite-the-ball" techniques used for so long by so many. As the article and the video suggest, these tackling techniques have been around for a long time - especially in rugby where they have to tackle with zero pads or helmets. If you actually listen to the Ohio State coach, their tackle teaching was ineffective and bad form consistently showed up on film, even though it wasn't being taught improperly.

Perhaps while none of this is ground breaking, there might be something about the way that it is organized, shown, and taught that is more clear and reaches the players more effectively. I'm sure the ability to practice it nearly every day helps as well.

But I would ask the people that think this is something everyone does and everyone should already know how to do, to realize this is obviously not the case.

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I still teach the old school fundamentals. You can still look up and raise your body and get a good tackle. You are right though, its nowhere near as effective. The old way protects you though, I don't know what they mean.

I would expect they mean something along the lines of what falcndave said:

I, for one, can say it is very different than the way I was taught. I was taught "see your target". A perfect tackle of a motionless runner would be with you face mask buried between his numbers, then wrap and drive. On pursuit (moving laterally toward the boundary) tackles we were taught to track the inside hip, cut off his path with your head (get your head in front of his body), make contact with your shoulder, then wrap and drive through the runner. That technique is a good way to get a knee in the ear hole of your helmet!

However, even in 1973 I was taught that tackling with my head down could break my neck.

Also, how you guys say you were taught is completely different from the bite-the-ball techniques that most people have been taught, like on this video:

You can clearly see that head is in the guys chest, and not to the side and clear like it is when either wrapping up at the thighs with your head to the side, or hitting to the side of the body in the chest with your shoulder in the "profile" tackle in Carroll's video.

Finally, I'm guessing some people that have been around the game a long time like the Ohio State coach talked about are simply unaware of how their coaching might not be as safe as they think, or reaching the players like they think it is?

"If you're a coach and you've been doing it for 30 years and you've had success doing it, your thought is, 'why am I going to change what I'm doing?' I look at it differently — 'there's always a way to do stuff better.' And, you've got to at least evaluate that — at the end of the day, and through your exhaustive research you realize it's not better, we don't change. But I'm not going to be one that, 'we're doing it this way, because we've done it [this way].' If I see or hear something that spurs some thought, and I start to research, and find out — 'yeah, this is actually better' — we'll do it. And, that's really what that video did — it made us think, are we doing the right thing, really? So, we go back and evaluate."

"I'm so glad that I did watch that video when I did, and we went through as a staff and did that self-evaluation when we did, because I feel today that after 18 years of coaching, I taught something that actually shows up on tape and is safer for the players."

"We did our own evaluation," continued Ash. "I probably watched that video that Pete Carroll put out like, 20 times, to be honest with you. Because I wanted to just keep going back, listening to what he was talking about — ‘safety was the number-one thing, safety, safety, safety,' and I thought, you know what? I don't know that the way we're teaching tackling is necessarily unsafe, but should we change? So, I thought, I'm not going to put this to bed. I'm going to go watch our film."

"I start watching our film," he said, "and I'll be darned. Everything he's talking about [with regards to unsafe techniques] is showing up on film, and we're not even coaching it (the improper way). We got together as a defensive staff. ‘We've got to watch this. We've got to talk about this. Something's not right here.' We're all smart coaches and have been coaching for a long time, but what you're coaching, what I'm coaching, it's not happening on film. We've got to talk about this.' We had some serious conversations for a few weeks."

Edited by RandomFan
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I think what the article is saying is less that this is revolutionary, and more that the way of teaching it is more effective.

That is, they've always told you to not drop your head, send your shoulder into the player, and drive.

What I think the college coach was saying, is that he thought he was teaching it that way, but it wasn't showing up on film...his players weren't internalizing it well and were performing wrong. So by using this teaching method, they do it right more often.

I'm not certain, but it seems that's what they're getting at.

I know in other areas, you can teach something the same way (telling players/students the same technique...but how you tell them how to think about it makes the difference.) It's like telling someone a thousand times how to do a crunch, and then you tell them to feel each vertebrate starting at the bottom, and they get it right.

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I have never had any of the above playing defense for 16yrs. NEVER. Rarely have I coached anyone to get any of the above unless there was something more to it.

That's great. I'm truly happy for you and your players. But I hope you can realize that your small sample size has very little statistical significance on the population as a whole? You've been lucky. Many others have not, which is why improving tackling and reducing head trauma injuries has been a very big deal to the NFL for several years now. .

Edited by RandomFan
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